Your yoga mat might be hiding potentially dangerous microbes

Your yoga mat might be hiding potentially dangerous microbes

Disinfectant sprays and impregnated yoga mats contain triclosan – chemical responsible for antibiotic resistance

New Delhi, 3rd January 2019: If you are someone who spends a considerable amount of time every day at the gym or exercising in a public facility, it is time to be wary. That yoga mat you use, and other such surfaces covered in dust, may be a repository of antibiotic-resistant microbes, indicates a recent study. What is even more alarming is the fact that these microbes may not have developed this resistance because of the overuse of antibiotics, but because of a chemical commonly used in sanitizers: triclosan.

Triclosan may be banned from hand soaps, but its continued use in a myriad of other products, from disinfectant sprays to impregnated clothing, yoga mats, and other work-out equipment makes it difficult to avoid this now-ubiquitous chemical. About 0.3% is present in Colgate also. This is a public health concern because these antibacterial or antimicrobial chemicals are link to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Triclosan is known to cause a number of side effects. These include skin irritation, allergies, endocrine disruption, damage to the thyroid, and an increased risk of asthma and eczema in children. It is also one of the commonest synthetic compounds detected in waterways. What is even worse is that it is not usually filtered out from water treatment facilities. Many people use yoga mats and other such equipment/products in their regular exercise routine every day. The fact that something as simple as these is impregnated with this chemical is definitely a cause for alarm and concern. Antibiotic resistance is already rampant around the globe and therefore, one must ensure they take precautions to avoid developing any such condition.”

Triclosan was first registered for use as a surgical scrub in 1972, but quickly made its way from hospitals to the consumer over-the-counter market, where it began being added to soaps advertised for their antibacterial properties. Over the years, more and more evidence came to light that triclosan is not only unnecessary in soaps but is also causing a range of hazards to health.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “It is imperative to take precautions such as putting out the yoga mat or other such things used during exercise in the sun for some time every day. This will ensure that any such microbes are eliminated. Public exercise facilities should also ensure that they carry out cleaning of their equipment and mats on a regular basis to avoid any infections from spreading.”

Hand hygiene is one of the simplest and the most economical way to prevent transmission of harmful microorganisms and control spread of infection. The catch phrase is “before and after”, which means, one should wash hands before and after eating food, before and after touching any infected material, before and after seeing a patient or before and after normal evacuation of stool in the morning. Just as the currency exchanges hands, so does a disease. This reiterates the need for hand washing and ensuring hygienic practices everywhere.